Jamaica: Pride is personal, so come join us

Scene at Montego Bay Pride, Jamaica, Oct. 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)
Scene at Montego Bay Pride, Jamaica, on Oct. 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)
Events planned for Montego Bay Pride 2016
Events planned for Montego Bay Pride 2016. (Click the image for link to registration.)

For me, Montego Bay Pride is a personal affair for many reasons. You see, I grew up in this town, which was known as “the friendly city.” Our place as Jamaica’s tourism capital exposed Montegonians to very progressive ideas and we demonstrated remarkable tolerance for diversity.

However, “thanks” to increasing homophobic rhetoric spread by evangelical churches (many with American connections, including the one I grew up in) the culture of Montego Bay has become less tolerant. There is now a marked irrational fear of gays, even though members of the LGBTI community have long been the backbone of our vital tourism industry.

Keke entertains the gathering at Montego Bay Pride, Jamaica, on Oct. 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)
Keke entertains the gathering at Montego Bay Pride, Jamaica, on Oct. 25, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)

And so, through Pride I am hoping to remind Montego Bay, and the rest of Jamaica about our culture of inclusion and the tangible benefits of respecting and celebrating diversity.

That is why I am working with a dedicated (though still largely anonymous) team to welcome Jamaicans and overseas guests to Pride on Oct. 16. Additionally, I will personally be involved with, and hosting, many of the Pride events and I fully expect to have at least one “lucky” Pride guest stay at my family home. (Heads up, mom! 🙂  ) Also, my dad will once again be driving the “Pride bus!”

I hope that you will consider being my personal guest for Montego Bay Pride. You have my word that we will have a safe and entertaining time as we advocate and educate!

Come and stand in solidarity with the Jamaican LGBTI community as we reclaim our “One Love” culture! Register here.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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